11/27/2008 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Key #1 To Your Sound Financial Future: The Root Of Money

While there's been a lot of yammering about money and the global crisis surrounding it, lately, I've not yet run across any commentary about this problem's underlying nature. In order to create a sound financial future, it seems to me that it might be helpful to go back to the basics. With this piece in place, we can begin the process of not only rescue, but recovery. No bailouts can save us from the foundational problem we've got on our hands.

The Root of Money

If we want to turn our situation around, let's consider, for a moment, the roots of the word 'money.' It turns out that the word 'money' goes back to the word 'monetea.' Originally, this was a reference to the Goddess Monetea. I know, I know, who cares? What could this possibly have to do with you, me and now? Just bear with me for a nanosecond, O.K.? Anyhow, this Monetea chick had her own temple. Of course, this was in the days before currency, credit cards, and stock markets, much less government buy-outs, and presidential debates with roles played by characters named Obama and McCain. According to the Great Goddess Monetea, money had everything to do with relatedness. In other words, the marketplace was based on both the fair exchange of goods for services, which came from genuine emphasis upon being in good relations with one another. It was assumed that each individual had something of value to offer. No one had a corner on the market. The capacity to make a valued contribution was assumed. Since we live up or down to expectations of us, the name of the game back then was one of valued contribution, fairly exchanged. This was a time of equal valuing.

In short, wealth was acquired based on contribution. Compare this to today. Over the past few years, golden parachutes have been based more on what the fleeing executive can grab midflight before he flies the coup. His exit strategy has been to his advantage rather than us, his customers. Forget mutual fair exchange. Think Enron. No wonder people are pissed. While centuries have come and gone since the predominance of the Monetea way, the fact is that its archetype lives in our psyche. When we hear of bonus packages that harm the rest of us, our instinct for the protection of mutual exhange cries out.

Unfair treatment in the outer world abounds, for sure. But, how does this apply to us on the inner level? How do we impoverish ourselves? How do we treat ourselves unjustly, only to end up with the shakes when it comes to our financial future? And, more important, still, what can we 'take away' from this conversation, in order to create a sound financial future? What is the first key?

The first key is to return to relatedness. On every dimension. What is true in nature, is true in human nature. Have you ever had a cat that has been wounded? I remember when we lived in Boulder, Colorado, and our beloved Floyd got into a tussle with some neighboring beast, and returned home looking a bit worse for wear. Normally a very gregarious fellow, uncharacteristically, Floyd retreated to a remote corner of the kitchen, where he 'held up' for a few days. Much of his time was spent licking his owies, and resting. But, as soon as his wounds lost that angry, red hue, Floyd rejoined the rest of us, and was at his old tricks of hopping on laps and kneeding our chests with his paws as a gesture of affection.

Not unlike we humans. I noticed this behavior again in a ten year study I did a few years back that focused upon successful people. Whereas routinely these women were 'out and about' in their worlds, offering their contribution in exemplary ways, when they fell into zones that were disillusioning and disappointing, even frightening, they would shift from a focus on the outer world's problem, and fall back into places where they, like Floyd, could lick their wounds, repairing the damage to their egos until they were ready to get back on the playing field. Whether they were introverting from outer hurts, or extraverting their energy, what was true was the fact that they did not quit on themselves.

When we slip into hard times, like those today, we need to first return to good relations with ourselves. And, just like the participants in the study, if we honor the fact that we've suffered, and stay steady in whatever healing is necessary, a solution comes. It is at that time that we must return to the world with our expanded awareness and contribution. Thus, having grown in our relation to the world, we are better prepared to function in it even more successfully. Oddly enough, expanded success almost always requires that we come to the end of the road we've been traveling, and begin anew with a clearer sense of direction. Here, we are free to head back in the direction of the first two letters of wealth: 'we.' We understand that no one can go it alone.

One of the most noticeable differences between successful and unsuccessful folks is that the former come back out into the world in a timely manner, with the desire to make and even bigger difference through what they have learned via blood, sweat, and tears equity. In stark contrast, unsuccessful people tend to linger too long in the 'aint it awful' camp, vying for attention in most unattractive ways.They have taken their loss personally.

So, if you are feeling stuck in the financial domain, ask yourself where you need to beef up in the good relations department? This includes with yourself! Forgive yourself for what you did, or failed to do that placed you where you are financially. What is past is past. Forgive that part of yourself that has acted like the Golden Parachute boys, i.e., has attempted to flee the mess. Having done this, now turn to your assets. I'm talking here about those qualities, gifts, and skill sets you have that are valueable. Don't be modest. Remember Monetea. How can you own up to the unique value that you 'bring to the table,' in a world of hurt? How can you be in good relations with the fact that who you are, and what you can offer is priceless?